Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Who are the John Connor's of today?

Now if you haven't followed the Termionator series or it's television based prequil, you may be wondering just who is this John Connor. John Connor is the savior of the human race in the upcoming battle for our survival against the hordes of killer robots controlled by the anti-human Artificial Intelligence Skynet. Well that all seems pretty fantastic, right? Well maybe it is, but it's just too prevalent an archetype in today's zeitgeist for it to be considered merely fantasy.

In an Human Computer Interaction class awhile back, I asked the question that this blog entry calls it's title.... So who are the John Connor's of today. At the time I was worried that I was a lone wolf surrounded by another crop of technophiles who couldn't imagine the downside because they were all planning on making bank by making the good technology do good.

In class I was redirected to Martin Heidegger a German philosopher who was a critic of technology in his later years... wikipedia paraphrases his perspective thusly. "The essence of modern technology is the conversion of the whole universe of beings into an undifferentiated "standing reserve" (Bestand) of energy available for any use to which humans choose to put it."

I ran into Heidegger previously when reading Avita' Ronell's The Telephone Book, Technology, Schizophrenia and Electronic Speech. When I first came across this book it kind of blew my mind and went over my head at the same time. It's definitely slated for summer reading.

Other relevant books are 2 by Jerry Mander, "Four Arguments for the Abolition of Television" and "In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations". Somehow I have found my self as an anti-technology technologist.

I recently connected the Unibomber with the John Connor question and began to read some of his manifesto as well as watch some documentaries. One German documentary in particular really stood out... it's Lutz Dammbeck's "Das Netz" (a review can be found here.. it can also be found on youtube...
What was interesting about that film is that it is one of the only works I have found that connects Kaczynski with some intellectual grounding. Some of the interviews are amazing.

Another great find in critics of technology area is Evgeny Morozov. I encountered him debating with web 2.0 guru Clay Shirkey during some research. It's nice to know that everyone looking at new technology are not just cheerleaders.

Here's some Morozov links:
Evgeny Morozov on privacy

Evgeny Morozov critiques Jaron Lanier's book

Evgeny Morozov vs Clay Shirky

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